Rooted in authentic Hawaiian tradition and home to a melting pot of ethnicities, Honolulu is a modern city with a unique blend of cultures that serves as state capital and a gateway to the Hawaiian Islands. You can tour the historic downtown area, surf world-famous Waikiki Beach, shop in world-class stores, hike breathtaking coastal cliffs and dine at five-star restaurants. Best of all, you can do all of this in the same day.
Must-See Scenery of Honolulu
Diamond Head is an extinct volcano southeast of Honolulu near the Kahala and Kaimuki neighborhoods. The iconic cone is popular with hikers and photographers, who gain a view of the entire leeward coast of Oahu. You’ll find the white sands of Waikiki Beach inviting and its calm waters perfect for surfing lessons. Beach kiosks will offer equipment and varying-length lessons, as will many hotels.
Honolulu’s Historic Landmarks
Plan to take a tour of Iolani Palace, the sole royal residence on U.S. soil. The palace served as the home for Hawaii’s last two monarchs. Cross the street to see the bronze King Kamehameha statue, which memorializes the monarch who unified the Hawaiian Islands. Pearl Harbor, the joint military base west of Honolulu, is an emotional site and a National Historic Landmark. Daily tours are given of the USS Arizona Memorial, a battleship sunk in the 1941 attack. The 10-story Aloha Tower was erected in 1926 to welcome passenger ships arriving at Honolulu Harbor. Shop at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a harborside complex of stores and restaurants. And greeting you with open arms at Waikiki Beach, the Duke Kahanamoku statue memorializes the Olympic medal-winning swimmer and surfer who popularized the sport worldwide.
The neighborhoods of Honolulu are rich with tastes of every variety. You’ll find just about anything you could crave at the hotels and resorts in the Waikiki Beach area, but if you’d like to venture farther afield, try the busy and diverse neighborhood of Kalihi. Seek out markets serving the very-Hawaiian poké, cubes of seasoned, raw fish served with pickled vegetables. Downtown Honolulu’s Chinatown has become the up-and-coming neighborhood for nightlife. The many restaurant offerings, such as dim sum and barbecued ribs, are popular in the day. At night, the 20-block neighborhood comes alive with a multitude of bars and entertainment venues.
From snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve to a helicopter tour of the island, your child will never forget a trip to Honolulu. With its renowned resorts, gorgeous beaches, surfing lessons, restaurants, and luxury-brand stores, the Waikiki Beach neighborhood is full of upscale fun. But elsewhere, children can get all wrapped up in aerial adventures on the ropes and trapezes at Samadhi Hawaii on Cooke Street, take an art class at the downtown Honolulu Museum of Art, learn about the ocean environment from instructors at Na Kama Kai classes on Waikiki, or experience ocean kayaking at Kaneohe with the Kamaaina Kids.